Online Writing Jobs: The Definitive Guide To Finding (And Landing) Your Dream Gig
Have you ever reached that point where you look around at your life in the Shire, reminisce about when you used to enjoy life and make a daring move in an attempt to run away and find that fun again? No? Just me, er, Bilbo?
Seriously though, the days of forcing yourself to sit through a job that you hate, work that stifles your creativity and traffic that robs you of your morning coffee-induced joy are over. Freelancing is a new freedom, and if you’ve made the choice to leave the mundane and head out into the world of freelance writing, you’re in great company.
Online writing jobs are out there, and they’re just waiting for adventurous writing warriors to claim them and do ’em justice.
Like any worthwhile adventure, there are always monsters, and the big one in the writing world is fear. This definitive guide is designed as a new writer’s weapon, to give you all the information you need to understand the world of online writing jobs, how to navigate it, and where to find the online writing jobs that are suitable for you and your skills — so you can kick fear’s butt from the start.
The scope of online writing is grand, and there are many awesome opportunities out there. So many so, that it’s entirely possible in this day and age to make the change from commuting to a draining job that you aren’t passionate about, to working in the comfort of your home (or coffee shop, or chalet in the mountains …), writing about topics you enjoy and spending quality time with those that matter. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Ready to start searching for online writing jobs? Read through this guide, take notes, and then hit the ground running.
Types of Online Writing Jobs Available
What’s your type? *wink*
We all have things we like or dislike, things that are deal-breakers, and things that are essential in order for us to have a harmonious relationship with our writing.
If you’re worried about not being able to find the right kind of creative gig for you… Don’t be. As you’ll see when scrolling through this list, there are more types of online writing jobs available than most people even realize exist.
It’s near impossible to get bored with work when you’re a freelance writer. While choosing and sticking to a niche and type is important, there are always opportunities for something new, fun and different on the side.
Not sure what kind of writer you want to be? Check out these types of online writing jobs to help you along the way.
Take a moment and look around you. I can almost guarantee that somewhere within your range of sight is something — a product, a web page, packaging — that has words written on it.
Someone has to write those words, and this is where copywriters come in. Copywriting is used mainly for marketing and advertising purposes, and less for entertainment or information.
Who hires copywriters? The short answer is … Everyone. If you’ve got something to sell — whether that’s a product, a service, or a dream — you need great copywriting to get the word out and make people want what you’re offering.
As a copywriter, your job is to create desire in your readers and turn that desire into action. To buy the product, to sign up for the emails, to engage services.
A great copywriter manages to be both persuasive and creative in their writing and also has a knack for research. You’ll need to have a good idea of what you’re writing about in order to know how best to present it to readers.
If this sounds like more work and less fun, don’t write it off. Copywriting is one of the most diverse, challenging and well-paying types of online writing jobs out there. And once you’re in, there’s a never-ending supply of gigs available.
The primary aim of writing a blog post is to inform, and coming in a close second, to entertain. Blogs are usually written in a more informal tone, although this does vary depending on the niche.
Nobody wants to read boring blocks of text anymore. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and most of us are wondering what we’ll have for lunch instead of taking in what we’re reading. I’m thinking pasta. Always a winner. Little bit of Parmesan …
Uh, where was I? Blogs are formatted in such a way that the reader is not intimidated by pages of solid text, and can easily jump to a headline that catches their attention.
The key to blogging is personality. Everyone and their goldfish have a blog these days, so if you want to stand out, you’ve got to have a bit of blog-charisma that resonates with your readers.
There are infinite opportunities for blogging out there, such as guest posting on blogs related to your niche, or finding a long-term blogging job with one particular client.
It is also important to note, though, that blogging and copywriting can be mixed together to form an interesting recipe for marketing. As much as people do read blogs for entertainment and information purposes, if you can mix in a bit of sales and advertising too, you’ve got the magic formula.
Technology is steaming along at a bit of an alarming rate, and that means this type of writing is always in demand. Technical writing can be a little harder to break into, as often some professional knowledge is required.
These are the dudes and dudettes who are responsible for those helpful user manuals that a lot of us should read but don’t, the installation instructions for a new piece of software or complicated lists of machinery components that might be utilized in an engineering space.
This kind of writing is fairly industry-specific, so if you’re making the change from a technical career into freelance writing, this could be a great way to go, as you likely already have the knowledge required to excel at this type of writing.
While it may not be as creative as some other types of online writing jobs, technical writing is among the most lucrative, and you are pretty much guaranteed to never run out of work.
Social Media Writing
Who isn’t on social media these days?
Gone are the days of relying on billboards and flyers to sell your products or promote your services. You can now do it for a quarter of the price and effort, and reach thousands of more people.
Social media writing might sound rather vague, but there’s a pretty specific way to do it right. What makes this type of writing a little more tricky is that each platform is unique, and a perfectly crafted Facebook post will need to be done differently on Twitter, and yet again differently for an appropriate LinkedIn post.
To be a good social media writer, you need to have knowledge of the various platforms and know how to optimize your posts most effectively for each one. You also need to be able to pack a bunch of creativity into a fairly small space, as long form posts are less popular in this space.
If you’re one of those people who finds yourself on Facebook for hours on end every day, this may be an avenue for you to put your social media time to legit good use.
Product Description Writing
Ever wondered who writes the lovely descriptions on online shopping sites or catalogs? Yep. There are writers dedicated to that, too.
This may sound rather boring, but it can be a fun and challenging job. If you consider yourself a good salesperson, this may be a good fit for you, as you’ll be expected to come up with descriptions that capture people’s attention and make them go out and purchase that specific toaster, or screwdriver, or olive de-pitter.
A little upside to this kind of writing is that often companies will send you the item you’re expected to write about, so you have the chance to try it out for yourself. If you’re lucky you’ll get to keep some of them, so although this is not the highest paying type of online writing job, it does have other benefits.
This is not as spooky as it sounds. Basically, this means that you write an article, a blog post or a book, and someone else gets to put their name on it.
Wait! Don’t discount these type of online writing jobs. Selling the rights to your work may sound counter-productive, but if you’re an already established writer, this is a way to make some rather good income on the side.
If you’re just starting out and looking to add to your portfolio, this is not likely to be the kind of job for you. Once your piece is written and published, there is no link whatsoever back to you, so you cannot use it to show off your skills in your portfolio.
It is, however, a fairly lucrative job if you’re willing to forego author attribution for some of your writing pieces.
There is a good way, a bad way and a just plain boring way to write up a resume, and most people are not confident enough in their own writing to be comfortable doing it themselves. These days, job competition is rife from step one, so your resume needs to be head and shoulders above the rest to get noticed.
Enter the resume writer. Skills needed? A way with words and a knowledge of how a resume is structured. There’s really not much to do except to take the tired, unoriginal material (don’t worry, we all have it), and spruce it up into something that sounds snazzy.
If you’re great with the glittery stuff and can paint a picture with your words, then this could be the gig for you.
If you have a legal background, this is a well-paying market that you could branch into. Law firms are always in need of people to write up contracts, research papers, legal briefs, and all those other complicated things.
If you’re fluent in Legalese and know your way around the law (in the most legal way possible, I mean…) then it’s worth looking at jobs in this category. Remember though, that laws differ country to country and sometimes region to region, so you need to be on your toes and well-versed in the particular area you’re interested in.
This list covers just some of the options out there for online writing jobs. If you haven’t found something that grabs you, you can check out essay writing jobs, grant writing jobs, book or e-book writing, writing for nonprofits, writing band bios, real estate writing, speech writing … Really, the list goes on. And on. And on …
Where To Find Online Writing Jobs
If you’ve chosen a niche and a type of online writing job you’re keen on, you’re more than halfway there, already. That’s the foundation you need, and the next step is to start laying some bricks.
Bricks can be hard to find though unless you know where to look. There are a few options for finding online writing jobs when you’re starting out, and each has its pros and cons. Most of them, though, yield decent, paying work, and all of them get your name on articles (except, of course, the ghost writing gigs), which is exactly the start you need.
So have a look, try them out, and see which works best for you.
Online Job Boards
Job boards are the equivalent to an old-school pinboard in a coffee shop. Need a writer? Post an ad. Need a job? Answer an ad. Enjoy a coffee and a chat (aka read a blog post and leave a comment, because who does the in-person thing anymore?).
A good job board offers more than just a list of jobs though. You’ll usually find tips and tricks and a helpful blog in addition to the abundance of paid online writing jobs waiting to be snapped up.
Sound like a good place to start? Check some of these out.
If you could pick one and one alone, look no further than The Writer’s Job Board. The name says it all – blogging, writing, online content, publishing, editing … Whatever you want, you’ll find it here.
Sign up to become a Job Hunter Pro and you’ll become part of a community of writers from all walks of life, and enjoy exclusive access to the best online writing jobs the internet has to offer. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to go trawling the internet to find something that suits you. You’ll find specially curated jobs, all in one spot, for your browsing (and applying) pleasure.
In addition to this treasure trove of possible work, you’ll also find a section dedicated to freelance writing tips, writing resources, and a super list of publications of all genres that accept submissions from freelance writers.
If you’re looking for a remote position or part-time work writing, blogging, creating online content, editing or publishing, they’ve teamed up with FlexJobs to bring you even more writing job goodness. If you can’t find something to suit your needs here …
Nah. You’ll find something. They’re not called the most comprehensive writing job search site for nothing.
ProBlogger is another great place to find online writing jobs. It is easy to navigate and comprehensive.
Jobs listed include contract jobs, freelance jobs, part-time and full-time jobs, and these are a mixture of location-specific and remote jobs.
As the name suggests, many of the jobs posted are blogging jobs, but on occasion other types of online writing jobs can be found.
To the point, quick and easy and reliable, with a useful blog on the side. Just as a job board should be!
Again, as the name suggests, this job board offers mainly blogging type jobs, but here and there something different pops up.
It’s a little less colorful than ProBlogger, but essentially fulfills the same purpose. Opportunity, information and motivational blog posts.
Similar in layout to the above mentioned sites, this job board is less blogging-geared and so offers some jobs that may not be shown on the other boards.
They also have a useful stash of resources for writers, which includes business tips, writing tips and job hunting tips, as well as some lists of useful tools you can download to help you out.
This ones comes at a price, but don’t let that put you off. The fee gets you access to the job board, weekly live training, e-books, and forums, as well as a quality job feed that doesn’t accept jobs paying less than $50 per article.
Which means that even if you write one article a month off of this board, you’ll pay for the fee twice over.
This job board has far fewer blogging gigs, and leans more towards copywriting, web writing and other writing related jobs, such as social media jobs and admin jobs with a writing slant.
It has a sleek, clean interface and is user-friendly. As a nice perk, you can also sign up to their “Morning Coffee” newsletter and get jobs delivered to your inbox. Easy peasy.
These are by no means the only job boards out there for online writing jobs. Google is your best friend when it comes to finding these communal gathering places, and remember, even job boards that aren’t specifically for writers can be useful.
Ah, the bane of every freelancer’s existence. These dark and dingy corners of the writer’s web world have a bit of a mixed up reputation, but it seems fair to say that their time of being useful has come and gone.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a content mill is, it’s a sort of online marketplace where freelancers gather, flaunt their wares and fight off others for the chance to grab any available jobs. Pay is low and competition is high, but there is always the guarantee of a job.
Sure, some people find good, regular, well-paying work here, but most people … Well, they don’t. These dens of cheaply-produced content don’t offer great monetary returns, and unless you really, reeeeeally love writing (and competition), you’re going to tire very quickly of being pushed for time and short of cash.
That said, if you need your name on a few things to buff up your portfolio, you may have to brave the depths of the mills and get that content out there to pave the way for bigger things.
Here are a few to consider:
There are a few more “upmarket,” newer sites that have the basics of a content mill but do things a little differently. They’re discussed in this article. So, if content mills sound like the best way to start for you, these may be the tops of the pops.
Word of Mouth
Don’t underestimate word of mouth. While it’s usually true that mom is a little biased and any good friend is unwaveringly supportive, discounting this avenue of finding jobs means you’re ignoring an enormous network of people right under your own nose.
If you aren’t sure how to go about bringing it up, the simplest and least confrontational way is to start up some business social media pages and share them with your friends and family. Build up some likes on a Facebook page and ask your friends and family to share it to their contacts. There’s truly no shame in promoting yourself as a freelance writer and it’s one of the most sure-fire ways to find and land online writing jobs.
Remember, writing is something in demand everywhere, and in every business. Mom’s second cousin’s best friend’s aunty may just need your services, and one word of mouth job usually leads to another.
Pitch to Paying Markets
Ah, life can be a pitch for freelance writers. This is the step that most new writers struggle with. The thought of putting yourself out there and showing your ideas to an editor who has been doing this for ages is somewhat intimidating.
If you aren’t sure what this heading means, pitching to a publication is basically getting in touch with the editor and describing a potential story that you would like to contribute to their publication.
This can be tough for new writers as this will need to be a completely original piece, heading included. You are not provided with any headings, keywords or information, and must sell your idea to the editor, usually (in today’s digital age) via email.
There is a good way and a terrible way to pitch to publications, and editors’ inboxes see hundreds of these at any given time, so you need to make sure your pitch stands out and grabs their attention.
The cool thing is that there is plenty of advice out there about how to go about this the right way, so if you’re nervous, Google, learn, and then give it a go.
You can also find a few super compilations of paying publications (listed below) so be sure to check them all out and pick the ones that are appropriate for you.
- Writer’s Job Board Paying Markets
- Sophie Lizard’s Better Paying Blogging Gigs
- Writers in Charge Ultimate List of Magazines That Pay
- American Writers & Artists Inc.
*Hint: As tempting as it may be to pitch ideas to everyone, choose just a few that suit your niche and go with those. Pitching to hundreds of publications at once will only wear you out and put you off!
We writers are like bikers. Tough, tattooed, and leather-clad. Wait, wait, wrong story. Ahem. We writers are like bikers. We value community. So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn page, open a new tab right next to this one and create one now.
I can hear some of you already — “But I already have Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram and Tumblr and Pinterest and BooHoo and BlaBla and JangleNugget, why do I need LinkedIn?” *eye roll*
Well, ladies and gentlemen, LinkedIn is less social media and more social networking. Basically, LinkedIn is Facebook for business people.
Not sure what the difference is? In a nutshell, your LinkedIn contacts will not be posting photos of their dinner and depressing song lyrics. You’ll see a steady stream of useful, industry-specific posts and be in touch with people who are serious about their business.
This means you’re able to reach out, offer your services, get known in your niche and, if you post content of your own, you’ll always be popping up on others’ homepages and reminding them to pick you if they need a writer.
I know, I know. We’ve just spoken about the den of food-picture and meme iniquity that is Facebook, but the fact is, any social media platform that has people on it is a source of potential work.
Any freelance writer worth their salt has a Facebook group, and uses it to actively market themselves and their work. While this may be a difficult thing to build up when you’re starting off, there is a multitude of already established groups out there with enormous followings, and joining some of these puts you in almost direct contact with a network of potential clients.
Remember, every person in these groups has a network of their own, and your simple post about being a freelance writer in the knitting niche may jog someone’s memory about something their husband’s mother’s best friend mentioned least week, and voila, a client could be coming your way.
Also, these are awesome places to get some advice and encouragement when you’re feeling less than confident.
Here are a few to join to get you started:
- Writing Revolters
- Creative Freelancers Unite
- Cult of Copy Job Board (copywriting, advanced)
- Blogger Opportunities
Use that Facebook search bar to find more groups in your niche, introduce yourself, and make the most of being in a like-minded and helpful community.
The fact is, if you want to write, there’s stuff waiting to be written. All that’s required is a bit of searching, a bit of courage and a bit of confidence in your writing ability.
From finding your very first online writing job, hopping on a writing site or job board, or spreading the word amongst your family and friends, to crafting a job-attracting LinkedIn profile and pitching to editors, there is no end of jobs out there waiting for creative, personality-laced pieces to be written.
How To Land Online Writing Jobs
Now that you’ve read through all that and have a good idea of how these things work, it’s time for action.
You’ve learned what types of jobs are out there, where to find them, and now it’s time to learn how to successfully land freelance clients.
This step can be tough, as competition can be high and your emails and responses to ads can get lost in the crowd.
What You Will Need to Apply for Online Writing Jobs
There are a few essentials that separate real writers from … Well, just any old person with a computer. Get these right, and you’ll be ahead before you even start.
1. An Online Portfolio
I’m pretty sure not many people would hire a guy to build their house if they hadn’t seen some examples of things he’s already built.
Very few people are going to pay you to write if they aren’t even sure if you can. Your portfolio shows off not only the fact that you know how to spell things and your grammar is decent, but it also gives clients an idea of what sort of content you’re knowledgeable about and your writing style or voice.
There are a few ways to create a portfolio of your online writing work, and it all depends on what suits you.
If you haven’t had any pieces published yet, don’t panic. You don’t need published works for prospective clients to get a feel for your writing, but you do need … Well, writing.
A great first step towards creating a portfolio is to get yourself …
2. A Website
Clients are not going to go trawling around social media to find out information about you. Your website should serve the dual purpose of giving your clients all the relevant information about what you do, who you do it for and how to get ahold of you, and show off some real pieces you’ve written.
There are certain things that every writer’s website should have, and one of these things is a blog. It’s all fine and well to have your contact details and your picture up there, but a blog is a living, evolving, and up-to-date portfolio for clients to look through to get an idea of how you write and how up to date you are on your niche.
If you haven’t had any pieces published yet, your blog is an excellent way to show off your writing to prospective clients, and prove that you’ve got the writing chops they’re looking for.
3. A Proper Email Address
Sure, we’ve all had that email address since we were in high school, the one all of our oldest friends know. But when it comes to leaping into the world of online writing jobs, emailing an editor from firstname.lastname@example.org is just about killing your chances of a writing career before you even start.
Many website hosting companies offer a free email address along with your website, so be sure to look into that. You want something professional and something related to your own name or your freelance writing business’s name.
4. A Schedule
I’m pretty sure this is the most hated word in the freelance writer’s vocabulary, but no matter how you slice it, a schedule is an incredibly valuable thing to have and use.
If you’re venturing into writing while still working another job, you’re never going to find regular, well-paying clients if you don’t dedicate the time to it. A few scribbled words every night before passing out is not going to build you an attention-catching and personality-filled portfolio.
Even if you dedicate 30 minutes a day to working on your website, writing a blog post or looking for jobs, you need to have some time that’s specifically dedicated to working on your freelance writing business.
Online writing jobs don’t come to you as a new writer. You need to actively seek them out and take steps towards building a reputation. You’re going to set yourself back from the start if you aren’t writing and marketing yourself constantly and consistently. So create a schedule and stick to it!
This may sound like one of those new-agey, rah-rah statements, but remember that fear monster we mentioned earlier? Yep. It’s watching you.
Fear, doubt and lack of motivation are inevitable. They WILL happen, and you know what? That’s okay. The key to overcoming it is keeping yourself motivated, being proactive and gritting your teeth and kicking the monster in the … Shins.
Join a Facebook group where the members motivate each other. Find an accountability partner. Surround yourself with reminders of why you’re doing this. Write out inspiring quotes. Meditate.
Find what motivates you, and do it. Fake confidence if you have to, because the fear doesn’t know the difference!
Remember, you’re super prepared for every part of this writing journey, and that alone means you’re ahead of a lot of wannabe writers. If you feel like you’ve forgotten all that you’ve learned, check out this little roundup of things to do to ensure you feel confident about applying for online writing jobs.
Tips and Tricks to Help You Stand Out When Applying for Online Writing Jobs
It’s a blog-eat-blog world out there, and when you’re starting off you’re likely to be fighting it out in a crowd for these jobs.
Here are some things you can do that can guarantee you’ll be pushed up to the top of the pack and stand out from the crowd.
Having a brand sounds like something only big businesses do, but trust me, this will set you apart from the start.
Most people think that a brand means having a specific color and logo, and while this is a part of it, a brand is actually a much bigger thing than that.
Branding is about what you stand for, and how your online presence portrays that. If your writing voice is bold, brash and to the point, pastel pink and purple colors are probably not going to be in harmony with that style.
In the same vein, if you write about lifestyle topics for new moms, bright red and black and a bold font may not quite portray your message correctly.
Get your voice and visuals in sync, and your branding will be on point. Consistency is key!
Get Active on Social Media
This doesn’t mean posting more cat videos and playing Candy Crush. This means creating business pages, and using them.
Social media is a huge networking opportunity, and a way to link back to your website and your content. Follow people who are relevant in your niche. Share useful, valuable, and original content, and people will start taking notice.
Networking is highly important in any business, and the online writing world is no different. Social media is a great way to start getting in touch with people, introducing yourself and making your name and services known.
The key to building relationships, though, is to be genuine and to foster these relationships. You never know which contact could end up being your big break, so genuine connection is essential (so is being a decent human, of course).
Personalize your messages, respond to queries, have a little bit of humor. Be a normal, approachable human, take care of your online connections and your business relationships will flourish.
Show Off Your Personality
The best kind of writing is when an article makes you feel like you’re having a conversation with the writer. Most of us aren’t too keen to hang around and drag small talk out of someone who is just plain boring, so it goes without saying that if your writing feels like a conversation with a brick wall, nobody is going to make it to the end of your blog post.
Write like you speak, and don’t be afraid to throw some humor into it. If you want to swear, go for it. Just bear in mind that that may put off some clients, but it may help other clients relate more to you and your writing. There will always be some who love your style and some who don’t dig it quite so much, and in the long run it’s really in your best interest to just be yourself.
Yep, I think we’ve talked about this one enough. Do it, though.
Additional Resources for Finding and Landing Online Writing Jobs
We live in this cool age where information is at our fingertips, quite literally when you own a laptop or a smartphone. A few simple clicks and you can find something about anything, which is great for finding resources to assist you in this journey you’re headed on.
Books, blogs, how-to sites, products, tools, software … There’s a multitude of useful things that can give your writing a boost and make it easier for you to find those online writing jobs. Knowledge is power!
Books for finding and landing online writing jobs
- Top 12 Books For Writers: Step Up Your Game, Improve Your Craft, & Get Published
- Books For Bloggers: 10 Reads To Take Your Blog To The Next Level
- How To Get Great Freelance Clients
- Freelance Business Bootcamp
- The 5 Best Books Every Freelance Writer Needs to Read
Blogs about finding and landing online writing jobs
- 5 Helpful Freelance Writing Blogs
- Writing Revolt
- Be a Freelance Blogger
- Writers In Charge
- Positive Writer (for those doubtful moments!)
- Write or Die
- Write to Done
- Freelancer FAQs
- Freelance to Win
Tools for finding and landing online writing jobs
- 10 Digital Tools for Freelance Writers
- 10 Handy Apps for Freelance Writers
- Billing Software
- Tax Write-Offs Every Freelance Writer Should Know About
If you’ve reached this paragraph, congratulations! You are now leaps and bounds ahead of where you were when you started reading, and you have a blueprint for freelance writing success.
What remains now is for you to customize the blueprint to suit you, and take action! Put what you’ve learned into practice. Throw yourself into this adventure, because once you’re through the rough stuff at the beginning, there’s no other career so rewarding.
When you start to feel overwhelmed, refer back here and refresh your memory and your confidence. Make new connections, encourage them and surround yourself with inspiring people, words, and pictures.
And above all, write. You can’t go wrong when you write.